Gregory Dickow - How to Have an Intimate Relationship with God
- Buy this sermon
After Jesus died and rose from the dead, something happened to John in the year 95, in the year 95. So, he was very old by this time, 60 years or so after Jesus's death and resurrection. He was apprehended. John went like other disciples and he was preaching everywhere after Jesus's resurrection, and John was apprehended by the pro proconsul of Asia and sent to Rome where he was punished and brutally mistreated. He actually miraculously was preserved from death after being thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. This is found in history.
And on account of this trial, the title of martyr was given to John by the forefathers of the church who say that thus was fulfilled what Jesus had foretold, that he should drink of his cup, that John would drink of Jesus's cup. And what had happened was after they couldn't kill him, the Roman tyrant, Domitian, banished St. John to the Isle of Patmos, which is in his retirement. This is where the apostle was punished by the world, banished by the world, but favored by heaven. And he was given those heavenly visions which he has recorded in the canonized Book of Revelation, otherwise known as the apocalypse. The Book of Revelation was manifested to him. These revelations were manifested to him on a Sunday in the year 96.
Now, I want you to think about this, that they tried to silence John, and they tried to boil him to death in oil, and yet he survived. And then they tried to silence him by banishing him to the island of Patmos, and yet his voice became even louder by writing the Book of Revelation, a book. Millions and billions of people are aware of this book and. The amazing things in the Book of Revelation, some of which we understand, and some we don't understand yet, but what would make John's heart so willing to suffer? What could empower this man to endure boiling oil and not be killed? Well, I believe it was the love that Jesus had for him, a love that boiled hotter than the oil. It's the intimate love of Jesus, and I want to describe what this intimacy is like and how we can experience it.
In John chapter 13, "When Jesus had said these things," it says in verse 21 of John chapter 13, "He was troubled in spirit and he said, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.' Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke". I hope it's not me, I hope it's him. You can imagine the things that were goin' through these guys's minds at this time, and that's what leads up to verse 23. "Now there was leaning on Jesus's bosom one of his disciples whom Jesus loved, and so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask who it was, of whom he spoke".
So, John's leaning in the bosom of Jesus, Peter must be on the other side of John, and Peter is asking John, "Will you ask Jesus who it is that he's talkin' about? Ask him, you ask him". Verse 25, "Then leaning back on Jesus's breast," so he's leaning on Jesus's bosom, maybe something like this, and then he leans back to look to the face of Jesus, and he says, "Lord, who is it"? And Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it". "And having dipped the bread," the Bible says, "He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon," and the rest is history. Now, I want you to see how intimacy is described. This is one of the most beautiful pictures of intimacy in the Bible. One of the most beautiful pictures of intimacy anywhere in the world. I want you to see what it looked like.
Number one, John was leaning in. You see, intimacy with Jesus means leaning in. We've got to, like, lean in to hear him. We've got to lean in to feel him. We've gotta lean in. Every one of us can lean in. His arms are open wide. He's at the table with us. We're at his table. We're in his presence. We're not outside looking in. John was a man, and he was right next to Jesus. I want to encourage you, lean in and expect to feel him and expect his warm embrace. Lean in right now and trust that God's not gonna hold your sins against you, God's not going to keep you at arm's length, he's willing to let you come as close as you're willing to come. He'll never force you. He didn't force John. He didn't grab 'em, put 'em in a headlock, lean in my bosom right now. John initiated this, and Jesus didn't push back, and Jesus didn't push him away, and Jesus didn't say, "Oh, that's weird". Jesus, wow, number one, lean in. This his intimacy with Jesus.
Number two, dare to ask. Dare to ask what no one else is willing to ask. Ask God to show you his plan for your life. Ask God for the secrets to the things that he has not revealed to anybody else. Ask him to show you things that nobody else has seen before. Ask boldly, you're leaning in. Peter said, "Won't you ask him, John"? And John didn't even hesitate to ask. Why is it sometimes that goin' to God is the last thing we do as people when we're in a situation in life? Let's make that the first thing we do. When you wake up in the morning, lean in to listen to his voice, lean into adore him, lean in to be close to him.
I just sometimes physically just tilt my head just to try to listen to the voice of God. I think when we just close our eyes sometimes and we lean in and we just can picture ourselves like John in the bosom of Jesus, just putting our head on his chest, and dare to ask the things maybe nobody has ever asked before. And I want to encourage you to dare to ask things you've never asked God before. Ask him for wisdom. Ask him to see from his eyes. Ask him to hear with his ears. Ask him to show you his purpose for your life. Ask him to show you his next step for your life. What is my next step, God? Ask him to show you if there's something that you need to give more attention to in your life, somebody that you need to give a phone call to or reach out and message them and encourage them. Ask him what he's speaking to you. Ask him to show you the next level of his purpose and his will for your life. Ask him to bless you, but be bold and ask boldly.
Number three, Jesus answers him. When John says, "Lord, who is it"? it's a simple question, "Lord, who is it"? We should keep it simple, I guess, right? Lord, who is it? And Jesus answered, Jesus answered. I want you to see those words in verse 26 and really highlight that, Jesus answered. When you ask, I wanna encourage you, Jesus will answer. Jesus will answer. Expect an answer. When you lean in, when you dare to ask, when you ask boldly, expect to receive.
And then the fourth thing that intimacy with Jesus means to me, number one is leaning in, number two is daring to ask, number three is expecting to receive, and number four is your heart beating for what his heart beats for. What does his heart beat for? I believe God's heart beats for people, for souls to be saved. I believe God's heart beats for relationship with you. I believe God's heart beats for the poor, for the hurting, for the suffering. His heart beats for people. His heart beats for souls. His heart beats for souls being saved. His heart beats for us getting the message, the gospel of his grace, the message of his love to this world, and I'm committed to getting this message out to everyone possible.
You see, intimacy with Jesus is simple when you realize that you hold the key to how close of a relationship that you can have with God. I hold the key. He already is knocking at the door. He said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock". He was talkin' to believers in Revelation 3:20. "I stand at the door knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and I will dine with him and he with me". Boy, I really want you to get this, that we can set the temperature, we set the thermostat on how intimate we want to be with God. He wants it so bad. He wants it with you. He created us for that. He created us for intimacy with him. Lean in, be bold, and dare to ask. Expect to receive answers and expect for your heart to begin to beat for what his heart beats for. His heart beats for people.
We gotta see people as the crown of God's creation. We have to value human worth, every human life. God's heart beats for souls. We gotta win people to Jesus. I just release a soul-winning anointing into your life. I release an evangelism anointing into your life. I release a gospel-bearing, gospel-bringing heart and desire in you. I release and pray for gifts of miracles and healing gifts that will be signs and wonders for people to hear the message of Jesus, and see the miracles, and to see the signs and wonders. I release a breakthrough of signs and wonders in your life, and healing anointing in your life, and a miracle anointing in your life to bring to others in Jesus's name. Now, let's go and take the gospel to the souls that need him. There's a few dimensions of this kind of intimacy. There's four dimensions of intimacy that I wanna encourage you to start having every day with Jesus.
Number one is emotional intimacy. This involves you being honest with God. It involves candid, authentic sharing, and this is true in any relationship that you desire to have intimacy in, but it starts with our intimate relationship with God. It involves candid, authentic sharing of your thoughts and your feelings in a safe environment. If you don't have that, there's an unhealthy relationship that you're experiencing because I believe as you have emotional intimacy with God, it gives you the freedom, and the transparency, and the safety, and the confidence to begin to have that kind of closeness with another human being, whether it's in your marriage, in your parenting, whether it's in a friendship relationship, I really wanna encourage you that the best relationships are when we're candid, when we're authentic, when we feel safe sharing our thoughts and our feelings. So, that's emotional intimacy. You need to feel safe talk to God about anything.
Secondly, intellectual intimacy. This is something that's really lacking in a lot of people's lives, it's lacked in my life at times, and I'm tryin' to get better at this as well. What is intellectual intimacy? It's the freedom to think for yourself and believe that your opinion is valued, and intellectual intimacy is to allow the other person in whatever relationship that you're in, to allow the other person to think for themselves, to give them the freedom to think for themselves, to not try to tell people what they should think. The freedom to think for yourself and believe and to give that person freedom to think for themself and value their opinion.
You see, this is what's happened in polarizing our culture when it comes to politics, polarizing our culture when it comes to sex and gender, polarizing our culture when it comes to what opinions we take on things, polarizing our churches by having such rigid, judgmental opinions towards people that look like they're struggling more than you. And really, we have to stop judging. We judge nothing before the time, we learned that a few weeks ago here. I wonder if we could give each other the freedom to think for themselves and if we give each other the freedom to think for ourselves, and I wonder if we valued each other's opinion more, I wonder if we could win this world to Jesus faster. I know we can. I know we could. I wonder if we stop judging, and if we would be able to give people the freedom to process through their current opinion.
The opinion I have about certain topics, right now, today, is different than the opinion I had about some of those things 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. And my opinion a week from now, or a month from now, might be different than what my opinion is now on certain things, but I believe it should be an evolving process of intellectual growth by not being rigid, and not being stuck in our ways, and not judging a book by its covers. This is something that we can have with God. He will let us think what we think. He will let us have our opinions, but we should bring those to him and invite him to weigh in. Invite God, if you just prayed right now and just said Lord, here's my true thoughts, here's my true feelings, here's my true opinions about this, but Lord, I invite you to weigh in, I invite you to correct me, I invite you to adjust me, I invite you to help me to see where I'm wrong. I thank you, Lord, that you won't judge me, so I invite you to speak freely to me. That's intellectual intimacy with God.
And then third, there's experiential intimacy. That's time spent, that's shared experiences in human relationships. It leads to jokes, and private memories, and it can make the relationship gets stronger and stronger by having experiential intimacy. God wants to have this experiential intimacy with us. We're having it now with God in our church experience, right? "Now where two or three are gathered in my name," Jesus said, "There I am in the midst of them". You and me are right now having an intimate relationship with God together, but he wants to have that moments with you alone.
If you just woke up every day and said, Father, thank you that you love me, Father, thank you that you chose me, Father, thank you that you believe in me. I wonder if we just prayed those simple prayers, how much more experiential closeness we'd have with God. And what if we said also, "Father, I trust you? Father, I love you. Father, I thank you". Just the 30 seconds I just spent saying those couple of things that I just said, if you spent that 30 seconds every day saying, "Lord, thank you for loving me, thank you for choosing me, thank you for believing in me, and Father, I love you, Father, I thank you, Father, I trust you. That experience every day, that'll make you closer and closer to your heavenly Father than you ever thought possible".
And then fourth, there's spiritual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy is no judgment, you just discover, you explore, you evolve as a person. Spiritual intimacy is when somebody falls, our heart is to help restore. When we fall, we should be surrounded with people that want to restore. This is how to experience closeness with God, but I wish we would just realize that spending a few seconds or moments with God will change our life forever. He's always with us, but our awareness of him being with us and our conversations with God, we need to take initiative and we need to lean into simple. Spending time with God is simple. It's just spending time, like, taking the few seconds, taking a couple of moments every morning and talk to him, and create a habit of talking to him, and the more you spend time with him, I guarantee you the more time you will have in your life, because there is a miracle that happens when you give time.
When you give time with God, when you freely spend time with him, he will multiply it. He will bless you with it. He will bless you with more time. Like, God doesn't live in our time span. God created time, but to God that's just one dimension of his universe is time, and he can enter into that time, and he can come out of that, and he can expand it, and he can multiply it. Anything you give God he will multiply. If you give him time, he'll multiply your time. If you give him your offering, he'll multiply your offering. If you give whatever you give him, believe in this time spent with God. You know, have you ever heard the saying the time you've just spent with God was a waste of time? No, you've never heard it 'cause no one's ever thought that and no one's ever said what a waste of time I just spent with God, said no one ever.
Boy, if we could get ahold of that, that you're never wasting your time when you're talking to God. You're never wasting your time when you're thanking God. You're never wasting your time when you're worshiping God. You're never wasting your time when you're celebrating God. You're never wasting your time when you're talking about him to others. I pray for this kind of closeness to become a lifestyle for you. You see, I really want you to practice these four intimacies with God, emotional intimacy, honest, candid discussion, intellectual intimacy, give yourself the freedom to think whatever you want to think, and invite God into your thinking. Invite God to correct you. Invite God to adjust where you're off. Experiential intimacy, spending the seconds that I illustrated, demonstrated for you.
Spend that kind of time with God in the morning, and then, and of course, spiritual intimacy where you're in a relationship with God where I'm not judging you. I'm in a relationship. He's not judging us. I'm in a relationship with God, you're in relationship with God where you believe he's not judging you 'cause there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ. It's all washed away, it's been nailed to the cross, buried forever. I wanna encourage you that we can have spiritual intimacy with each other by not judging each other.
Like, we as a church family can really become healthier when we have spiritual intimacy that says I'm gonna give you room to evolve, and discover, and experience God in your own way, and you're gonna give me room, and I'm not judging where you're at in your walk, in your journey, what chapter you're on, what chapter God is on with you, you don't judge my chapter. My chapter, I might have some horror chapters in my story. You might have some, too, but we have to respect, and give room, and give freedom, and give each other permission to be human and permission to be happy, imperfect people. I pray this touches you and goes deep into your heart, and I pray that you realize you have access to this kind of closeness and intimacy with God through the blood of Jesus already shed for you. You have access.